Mentorship: Wikis


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"Mentors" redirects here. For the rock band, see The Mentors.

Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The receiver of mentorship was traditionally referred to as a protégé, or apprentice but with the institutionalization of mentoring the more neutral word "mentee" was invented and is widely used today.

There are several definitions of mentoring in the literature. Foremost, mentoring involves communication and is relationship based. In the organizational setting, mentoring can take many forms. One definition of the many that has been proposed, is "Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development;mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protege)" (Bozeman, Feeney, 2007).



The roots of the practice are lost in antiquity. The word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey. Though the actual Mentor in the story is a somewhat ineffective old man, the goddess Athena takes on his appearance in order to guide young Telemachus in his time of difficulty.

Historically significant systems of mentorship include traditional Greek pederasty, the guru - disciple tradition practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism, Elders, the discipleship system practiced by Rabbinical Judaism and the Christian church, and apprenticing under the medieval guild system.

Mentoring Techniques

Since the focus of mentoring is to develop the whole person, the techniques are broad and require wisdom in order to be used appropriately [1].

A study of mentoring techniques most commonly used in business was published in 1995 under the title Working Wisdom. [2] In the study, five major techniques or "wisdom tactics" were found to be used most commonly by mentors. These are:

1. Accompanying: This means making a commitment in a caring way. Accompanying involves taking part in the learning process by taking the path with the learner.

2. Sowing: Mentors are often confronted with the difficulty of preparing the learner before he or she is ready to change. Sowing is necessary when you know that what you say may not be understood or even acceptable to learners at first but will make sense and have value to the mentee when the situation requires it.

3. Catalyzing: When change reaches a critical level of pressure, learning can jump. Here the mentor chooses to plunge the learner right into change, provoking a different way of thinking, a change in identity or a re-ordering of values.

4. Showing: this is making something understandable, or using your own example to demonstrate a skill or activity. You show what you are talking about, you show by your own behavior.

5. Harvesting: Here the mentor focuses on “picking the ripe fruit”: it is usually learned to create awareness of what was learned by experience and to draw conclusions. The key questions here are: "What have you learned?" "How useful is it?"

Different techniques may be used by mentors according to the situation and the psychological mindset of the mentee. The authors underline that the techniques used in modern organizations can be found in ancient education systems, from the Socratic technique of harvesting to the accompaniment method of learning used in the apprenticeship of itinerant cathedral builders during the Middle Ages [3]. Leadership authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner [4] advise mentors to look for "teachable moments" in order to "expand or realize the potentialities of the people in the organizations they lead" and underline that personal credibility is as essential to quality mentoring as skill.


It is important to appreciate the differences between instructing, coaching and mentoring. Instructing deals largely with the dissemination of knowledge. Coaching deals primarily with skill building, whereas a mentor is one who helps shape the outlook or attitude of the individual. Alternately, an instructor would typically help out with the job at hand or the work. A coach would help out with work and career related issues. A mentor on the other hand would focus on issues pertaining to career and life. -- Ayan Banerji, Kolkata, India. Mentoring is an activity that can potentially promote spiritual development.

There are two types of mentoring relationships: formal and informal. Informal relationships develop on their own between partners. Formal mentoring, on the other hand, refers to a structured process supported by the organization and addressed to target populations. Youth mentoring programs assist at-risk children or youth who lack role models and sponsors. In business formal mentoring is part of talent management address to populations such as key employees, newly hired graduates, high potentials and future leaders. In formal mentoring, matching of mentor and mentee is done by each choosing the partner in order to avoid creating a forced and inauthentic relationship.

There are formal mentoring programs that are values-oriented, while social mentoring and other types focus specifically on career development. Some mentorship programs provide both social and vocational support. In well-designed formal mentoring programs, there are program goals, schedules, training (for both mentors and protégés), and evaluation. In 2004 Metizo created the first mentoring certification for companies and business schools in order to guarantee the integrity and effectiveness of formal mentoring.[5]

There are many kinds of mentoring relationships from school or community-based relationships to e-mentoring relationships. These mentoring relationships vary and can be influenced by the type of mentoring relationship that is in effect. That is whether it has come about as a formal or informal relationship. Also there are several models have been used to describe and examine the sub-relationships that can emerge. For example, Buell (2004) describes how mentoring relationships can develop under a cloning model, nurturing model, friendship model and apprenticeship model. The cloning model is about the mentor trying to "produce a duplicate copy of him or her self." The nurturing model takes more of a "parent figure, creating a safe, open environment in which mentee can both learn and try things for him-or herself." The friendship model are more peers "rather than being involved in a hierarchical relationship." Lastly, the apprenticeship is about less "personal or social aspects... and the professional relationship is the sole focus" (Buell, 2004). [6]

In 1990, MENTOR created The Elements of Effective Practice, a tool for state and local mentoring organizations matching mentors and youth protégés in formal mentoring relationships of all kinds. Revised and updated several years later with a companion toolkit, The Elements guidebook reflects the latest in mentoring research, policies, and practices.

Contemporary research and practice in the US

New research in the 1970s, partly in response to a study by Daniel Levinson ("Seasons of a Man's Life"), led some women and African Americans to question whether the classic "white male" model was available or customary for people who are newcomers in traditionally white male organizations. In 1979 Edgar Schein published "Career Dynamics", in which he described multiple roles for successful mentors.

Two of his students, Robert Davis and Patricia Garrison, undertook to study successful leaders of both genders and at least two races. They wrote a master thesis describing many roles for mentors. Their research presented evidence for the roles of: cheerleader, coach, confidant, counsellor, developer of talent, "griot" (oral historian for the organization or profession), guardian, guru, inspiration, master, "opener of doors", patron, role model, pioneer, "seminal source", "successful leader", and teacher.[7] They described multiple mentoring practices which have since been given the name of "mosaic mentoring" to distinguish this kind of mentoring from the single mentor approach.

Mosaic mentoring is based on the concept that almost everyone can perform one or another function well for someone else -- and also can learn along one of these lines from someone else. The model is seen as useful for people who are non-traditional in some traditional setting, such as people of color and women in a traditionally white male organization. The idea has been well-received in medical education literature.[8] There are also mosaic mentoring programs in various faith-based organizations.

New-hire mentorship

For example, in some programs, newcomers to the organization (protégés) are paired with more experienced people (mentors) in order to obtain information, good examples, and advice as they advance. These programs are structured features designed to help train these less experienced individuals. It is considered that new employees who are paired with a mentor are twice as likely to remain in their job than those who do not receive mentorship.[9]

There are many benefits of these mentorships. One is that networking occurs more easily and is a possible reason that those mentored tend to do well in organizations. As Pompper and Adams (2006) state, "joining a mentor's network and developing one's own is central to advancement." These mentoring relationships provide much substance for career growth, and benefits both the mentor and the mentee. For example, the mentor gets to show leadership by giving back and perhaps being refreshed about their own work. The person being mentored networks, becomes integrated easier in an organization, gets experience and advice along the way. The actual organization receives an employee that is being gradually introduced and shaped by the organization's culture and operation because they have been under the mentorship of an experienced member (Pompper, Adams, 2006).

As mentioned earlier, in the organizational setting mentoring usually "requires unequal knowledge"(Bozeman, Feeney, 2007). The process of mentorship can differ. However, Bullis (1989) describes the mentoring process in the forms of phase models. Initially, the "mentee proves himself or herself worthy of the mentor's time and energy." Then cultivation occurs which includes the actual "coaching...a strong interpersonal bond between mentor and mentee develops." Next, under the phase of separation " the mentee experiences more autonomy." Ultimately, there is more of equality in the relationship termed by Bullis as Redefinition (1989).

High-potential mentorship

In other cases, mentoring is used to groom up-and-coming employees deemed to have the potential to move up into leadership roles. Here the employee (protégé) is paired with a senior level leader (or leaders) for a series of career-coaching interactions. A similar method of high-potential mentoring is to place the employee in a series of jobs in disparate areas of an organization, all for small periods of time, in anticipation of learning the organization's structure, culture, and methods. A mentor does not have to be a manager or supervisor to facilitate the process.

Mentorship in Education

In many secondary and post-secondary schools, mentorship programs are offered to support students in program completion, confidence building and transitioning to further education or the workforce. There are also many mentoring programs designed specifically to bring under-represented populations into science and engineering. One example is that of MentorNet-

Mentoring in Europe

The practice of mentoring seems to have far off origins: in ancient Greece young males usually lived with more mature men at their side: in this way they could learn values. Usually the older men were friends or relatives of the young man's father (Di Giusti, Taranto, 2000). The same principles as those used in modern mentoring, as Murray states (2001), can be traced to the corporations of arts and professions dating back to medieval times: in such associations, which in those days dominated the commercial world, it was the custom to take on young apprentices who lived and worked with their master, the owner of the workshop. They learned skills and abilities thus becoming mastercraftsmen themselves capable of taking over the business. Through this system, skills were handed down from one generation to another without the risk of them deserting to rival associations. With the industrial revolution which brought about the standardization of work, production and training, this type of relationship fell into disuse but the basic ethics survived: in this period an informal type of relationship between supervisors and gifted workers can be traced in factories: this enabled them to reach a better position (Rawlings, 2002). Since the 1970s mentoring has spread in the United States of America mainly in training contexts (Parsloe, 2000). In the same years, it began to spread in an organizational sense as well. Odiorne (1985) described it as “an innovation in American management”. In 1980s, mentoring, with the initiative of Matilda Raffa Cuomo, wife of the former Governor of the State of New York, Mario Cuomo, started to be used in a social environment to combat school drop outs, and then developing in the fight against social privations. Since the 1980s mentoring has begun to extend in the United Kingdom where it is widely used in the working and training environment: in the latter, the strategy has many applications in training students for teaching roles (Furlong, Maynard, 1995). It is present in countries such as France, Spain, Greece and Italy since the 1990s (Felice, Tagliavini, 2003).

In France, mentoring is called “Parrainage”; examples of its use can be found in the environment of the integration of disadvantaged persons in the professions and in activities regarding students of schools of all levels.

In Spain, mentoring is employed to facilitate the entry into the job market of those who have difficulty in finding jobs and as an instrument for the promotion of equal opportunities for men and women. In Greece, examples of mentoring activities can be found for the prevention of hardships which are experienced mostly by children.

In Italy, the first kind of mentoring rose up in the business sector with the introduction of law n° 44/86: the practice has wide applications today as a support strategy for young and female enterprise. The use of mentoring in social and scholastic environments in Italy is owed to Associazione Mentoring USA/Italia Onlus which, since 1997, has spread the strategy as a means to fight school dispersion.

Blended mentoring

The blended mentoring is a mix of on-site and online events, projected to give to career counselling and development services the opportunity to adopt mentoring in their ordinary practice. The use of this mentoring is the core objective of the EMPIRE project. In fact, Career guidance services have the potential to contribute significantly to the development of human capital. Nonetheless researches and policy reports (Career Guidance in Europe's Public Employment Services, commissioned in 2005 by European Commission Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities) have expressed concern that occupational information alone and traditional matching of people and jobs are not enough. Advances in the use of technology (cyber-counselling) and the introduction of new methodologies like mentoring could enrich the career counselling profession's contributions to individual development and expand access to a broader range of customers. EMPIRE is building up strong ties (network) between those actors who provide career development work and enterprises and their associations. Through the analysis derived from a series of focus groups, the partners will lay down the base for the piloting of tailored blended-mentoring schemes to be run with different target-groups. A mentoring kit will be prepared and used for the preparation of mentors. The final piloting phase (partly based on an on-line support service) with mentees (i.e. the customers of career counselling services) will produce several Career/professional plan and a reflection journal collecting the daily impressions of mentees and mentors. The experience as a whole will produce a set of guidelines/recommendations for career development agencies. EMPIRE will introduce new methodologies in career exploration and planning, and will promote technological developments especially through cyber-counselling for career planning. A contribute to meet the Lisbon Strategy through an enhanced quality of career guidance services on a cost/effective level, better levels of employability and an increased adaptability of workers.

Reverse mentoring

In the reverse mentoring situation, the mentee has more overall experience (typically as a result of age) than the mentor (who is typically younger), but the mentor has more knowledge in a particular area, and as such, reverses the typical constellation. Examples are when young internet or mobile savvy Millennial Generation teens train executives in using their high end Smart Phones. They in turn sometimes offer insight in business processes.

Business mentoring

The concept of mentoring has entered the business domain as well. This is different from being a apprentice, a business mentor provides guidance to a business owner or an entrepreneur on the entrepreneur's business. An apprentice learns a trade by working on the job with the "employer". The experience of the mentor can help the mentee overcome hurdles in business easily, given that the mentor has faced similar situations in business himself.

Business professionals with a lot of experience and successful entrepreneurs are lending their time to help others in business. The word mentoring is being often used by organizations such at TiE,[10] which help entrepreneurs start new ventures. Several venture capitalists also claim that they provide mentoring along with capital.

See also


  1. ^ L. A. Daloz, Effective Teaching and Mentoring,San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990, page 20
  2. ^ Bob Aubrey and Paul Cohen,Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations Jossey Bass, 1995, page 23
  3. ^ Bob Aubrey and Paul Cohen,Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations Jossey Bass, 1995, pages 44-47 for the roots of accompaniment and pages 96-97 for the Socratic technique of "giving birth" or harvesting
  4. ^ J. Kouzes and B. Posner, Credibility San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,1993,page 155
  5. ^ Certification is attributed jointly by the organization and an external expert. See
  6. ^ Buell, Cindy. "Models of Mentoring in Communication". Communication review (1). ISSN 1479-5795.  
  7. ^ MIT Sloan Master Thesis: Mentoring: in search of a typology — by Robert L Davis, Jr. and Patricia A Garrison, 1979
  8. ^ Vyjeyanthi S. Periyakoil. Journal of Palliative Medicine. October 2007, 10(5):1048-1049.doi:10.1089/jpm.2006.9911. Volume: 10 Issue 5: November 6, 2007
  9. ^ Kaye, Beverly; Jordan-Evans, Sharon (2005). Love 'Em or Lose Em: Getting Good People to Stay. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. p. 117. ISBN 13: 978-1-57675-327-9.  
  10. ^
  • Bozeman,B. and Feeney, M. K. (2007). Toward a useful theory of mentoring: A conceptual analysis and critique. "Administrative and society." 39 (6),719 - 739. [1]
  • Buell, C.(2004) Models of mentoring in communication. "Communication Education." 53(3),56-73.
  • Bullis, C. and Bach, W. B. (1989). Are mentor relationships helping organizations? An exploration of developing mentee-mentor-organizational identification using turning point analysis. "Communication Quarterly" 37 (3),199 -213.
  • Pompper, D. and Adams, J.(2006). Under the microscope: Gender and mentor-protege relationships. "Science Direct" Public Relations Review 32, 309 -315.

Further reading

  • Alliance for Excellent Education. (2005) Tapping the potential: Retaining and developing high-quality new teachers. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
  • Boreen, J., Johnson, M. K., Niday, D., & Potts, J. (2000). Mentoring beginning teachers: guiding, reflecting, coaching. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Carger, C.L. (1996). The two Bills: Reflecting on the gift of mentorship. Peabody Journal of Education, 71(1), 22-29.
  • Cheng, M. & Brown, R. (1992). A two-year evaluation of the peer support pilot project. Evaluation/Feasibility Report, Toronto Board of Education. ED 356 204.
  • Clinard, L. M. & Ariav, T. (1998). What mentoring does for mentors: A cross-cultural perspective. European Journal of Teacher Education, 21(1), 91-108.
  • Cox, M.D. (1997). Walking the tightrope: The role of mentoring in developing educators as professionals, in Mullen, C.A.. In M.D. Cox, C.K. Boettcher, & D.S. Adoue (Eds.), Breaking the circle of one: Redefining mentorship in the lives and writings of educators. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Head, F. A., Reiman, A. J., & Thies-Sprinthall, L. (1992). The reality of mentoring; Complexity in its process and function. In T.M. Bey & C. T. Holmes (Eds), Mentoring: Contemporary principles and issues. Reston, VA: Association of Teacher Educators, 5-24.
  • Huang, Chungliang and Jerry Lynch (1995), Mentoring - The TAO of Giving and Receiving Wisdom, Harper, San Francisco.
  • Kram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.
  • Murray, M. (1991). Beyond the myths and the magic of mentoring: How to facilitate an effective mentoring program. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Schlee, R. (2000). Mentoring and the professional development of business students. Journal of Management Education, 24(3), 322-337.
  • Scherer, Marge (ed.). (1999) A better beginning: Supporting and mentoring new teachers. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Project Blue Lynx, by Dan Ward. A journal article published by Defense Acquisition University, exploring an innovative approach to mentoring.

External links



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